Between 9% and 20% of Americans avoid going to the dentist due to anxiety or fear, according to WebMD.
If you are included in this percentage, know that you are not alone and you are not without hope.
There are any number of sources that can result in dental fear and anxiety. It is extremely important that this fear does not rule your life and dental practices. As you can see from the graphic to the right, there is a vicious cycle if you avoid the dental office.
By avoiding the dentist, you may be missing out on treatment that can either prevent any future problems or to diagnose any current problems. Without this treatment, either current problems worsen (pain could appear or get worse) or problems will arise.
There are different tips and methods to reduce dental anxiety and fear.
Get some information. For some, the root cause of dental anxiety comes from the fear of the unknown. Perhaps some of your anxiousness will alleviate when you better understand what procedures will be performed, what the problem is going on in your mouth, what options you have, what your insurance covers, and any other questions that you have.
There are a number of sources to gain this information. When researching, be sure to utilize only resources that are credible. Always remember that your dentist is a valuable source of information!
Tell your dentist about your fears. It is very beneficial to both you and your dentist when you tell the dentist about any dental anxiety. Venting can be a great way to release some anxiety, and your dentist can be better prepared and may be able to ease some of your anxiousness prior to treatment.
Bring a friend. Sometimes a good friend can go a long way in boosting confidence by being available for moral support. Most dental offices, Hintz Family Dentistry included, have no problem with you bringing someone along.
Distract yourself. Perhaps easier said than done, but this technique can be very effective. Count to yourself, play mental games, silently chant a mantra, whatever it takes to get to a happy place in your mind. Music can be a useful distraction.
Use relaxation techniques. Controlled breathing is one good relaxation technique, which involves taking a big breath, holding it, and then letting it out slowly. This breathing method slows down your heart rate and relaxes your muscles. Another relaxation technique is called progressive muscle relaxation and entails tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in turn.
These methods may help you or you may have your own way to calm your fears. Do whatever works for you. However, avoiding the dental office should not be an option. This will only make your dental health worse!
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Dental Anxiety and Fears. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.1800dentist.com/dental-fears/
Easing Dental Anxiety in Adults. (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/easing-dental-fear-adults
Sine, R. (n.d.). Overcoming Fear of the Dentist: Causes and Treatments. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/dont-fear-the-dentist
Toothpick. (n.d.). Dental Anxiety and Dental Phobia. Dental Health information | Patient. Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://patient.info/health/dental-anxiety-and-dental-phobia
What is Dental Anxiety and Phobia? (n.d.). Retrieved February 3, 2016, from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/dental-visits/article/what-is-dental-anxiety-and-phobia